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Millennium 2x13

The Mikado

A SERIAL KILLER USES THE INTERNET AS A MEDIUM FOR BROADCASTING HIS VICTIMS’ MURDERS.

Three teenagers cruising the Internet come upon a “live sex” web site, where a woman wearing a white bra is tied to a chair. Behind the woman is a wall, on which is painted a number, “37122.” The teenagers watch as an electronic counter at the bottom of the screen records the number of “hits” the web site has received. As the count reaches “37122,” a man wearing a black hood comes up behind the girl. As the teenagers watch, horrified, the man places a machete to the girl’s throat and kills her. One of the boys hits the “print” key on his computer, saving an image of the web site as proof of what transpired.

The Millennium Group receives reports from police departments across the United States, all having received complaints from people who witnessed the alleged murder as it played out on the Internet. Frank senses that the killing was not a hoax. Using his computer, Roedecker compares the victim’s picture (printed by the teenagers) to images posted on the National Missing Persons Registry. He and Frank determine that the victim was Rebecca Damsen, who used the Internet on a regular basis. Roedecker accesses Damsen’s e-mail messages, narrowing the suspects to three primary correspondents. Using a special live video link-up, Frank watches from the Group’s computer room as law enforcement officials in three different cities travel to the suspects’ homes. In one of those cities, San Jose, Watts and a police officer force their way into the residence of Branson Heygood after determining no one is home. As Frank watches from a live video feed, he notices the painting of a cemetery hanging on the wall. He tells Watts and the officer that Damsen’s body is in that cemetery. Watts travels to the cemetery, where the dead girl, Damsen, and a boy’s severed head, is discovered inside a shed. Frank realizes that Heygood was not the killer, but a victim. Inside the shed are a series of numbers, which is determined to be another Internet address.

The address turns out to be another of the killer’s home pages. This time, however, the web site contains an empty chair. Roedecker attempts to trace the signal, but it turns out the killer has somehow made the origin untraceable. The killer, however, provides a clue in the form of a number painted on the wall behind the chair: 696314. Frank realizes the number is an F.B.I. case file on a serial killer known as Avatar, who was last heard from twelve years earlier. Shortly thereafter, the killer releases another clue, this one a multi-charactered cipher, which is transmitted twice. He also places his next victim, another woman, on the web site, but is careful not to show her face, preventing identification.

Roedecker realizes there is a slight discrepancy between the two ciphers sent by the killer. The difference turns out to be a sound file embedded in the message: “The Mikado,” Avatar’s favorite operetta. Frank responds by posting his own cipher–a quote from Henry James, minus the last word–on a news group monitored by the killer. Avatar responds by burning the word “pain” into his victim’s forehead… thus completing a misquote contained in one of Avatar’s ciphers from years earlier.

Frank realizes that another of the killer’s numerical clues is the latitude and longitude for San Francisco. The Group, however, receives no help from skeptical San Francisco Police Captain Bachman, who believes that the killer is not Avatar.

As the web site’s counter edges upward, Frank realizes time is running out. Suddenly, he is inspired with an idea. The Group recreates a replica of the web page’s setting, right down to replacing the victim with an identically dressed woman. This keeps the counter number on the killer’s site from increasing. Shortly thereafter, the hooded figure apparently murders the girl on the “Avatar” web site… and sends another cipher.

This time, the hidden message turns out to be…

Feb. 06, 1998

Millennium season 2